Taxi drivers, motorcyclists enter a war of words

The Chief Traffic Police Commander, Mohamed Mpinga

 The war of words between taxi drivers and motorcyclists has escalated this festive season as the two scramble for passengers in the Dar es Salaam’s Central  Business District.
With taxi drivers—mostly registered and regulated—see their (cyclists) counterparts as intruders and trouble-makers who spoil the business they previously dominated, their ‘war’ had taken a new twist.
The cab operators in Ilala District, which includes the Central Business District (CBD) now accuse the authorities of failing to reign in bodaboda (motorcycles) and Bajaj, as the three-wheelers are popularly known.
Ilala District Taxi Divers Association (Umatawi) Coordinator, Hamis Kivugo said failure to prevent bodaboda and bajaj from operating in the city centre was negatively affecting their business significantly because they were required to pay over 800, 000/- in levy annually while their competitors –who penetrate the CBD illegally—were paying not more than 50, 000/-.
The  Chief Traffic Police Commander, Mohamed Mpinga assured taxi drivers for the start of strict operation early last week, to kick out their rivals as per Ilala municipal directives.
But according to Umatawi boss, apart from operating in city centre illegally, the big problem was that bodaboda and bajaj operators had been forcing their way to park at or very near taxi designated stands.
This encroachment had caused serious fights between us because if left to operate on the same level field, bodaboda and bajaj would have an upper hand due to small amount of fare they charged. 
For instance, a trip for which a taxi charges 10,000/-, a bodaboda or bajaj will take only 2,000/- (80 per cent cheaper)
Kivugo said despite frequent complains to City and Municipal Council, as well as police, over the intrusion, no steps have so far been taken to solve the problem.
“What we know is that bodaboda and bajaj are strictly forbidden from operating in the city centre. But at the moment they  ( bodaboda and bajaj) operate in the city centre,” Kivugo complained.
Although most Bajajs were initially imported as private means of transport for people with disability, the three-wheelers became a big deal, turning into  ‘mini taxis or shuttles’.
Umatawi has also taken the complaints over Bajaj carrying passengers to the Traffic Police Unit, challenging why the riders have been given passengers’ driving licenses while it was strictly forbidden for any   person with disabilities to carry passengers. 
Rajab Khamis, a taxi driver at the Railway Station-bus and taxi stand in the city center confirmed to have severally engaged in physical fighting with bodaboda and bajaj operators who had forced themselves to park at the taxi stage. 
Earlier, the City Council Parking Coordinator, Jumanne Manji noted that the issue of controlling three-wheelers and motorcycles was tricky, saying it had some elements of politics, which needed collective efforts from all relevant organs.
“The council has been putting much efforts towards controlling them, but it seems the task is too big for the council alone to manage. It should be dealt with all stakeholders, mostly police, Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) as well as relevant municipal councils.
Mpinga admitted that it was the wrong for persons with disabilities to carry passengers; insisting that license inspection will be amongst issues to be prioritized during the imminent operation.
“This is a must because we are sure that Bajaj operators are not genuine owners of those vehicles. There are there just like ‘shadows’ in the name that no legal action can be taken against them due to their disabilities; which is impossible at all,” he insisted.
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